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Setting the pace

Maddux's streak of 15-win seasons laps the field

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Latest: Sunday September 03, 2000 01:34 AM

  Greg Maddux Only Cy Young himslef posted more consecutive 15-win seasons than Greg Maddux. Jonathan Daniel/Allsport

By Jacob Luft and Lonny Krasnow,

Greg Maddux's dominance can't be measured with any one statistic, but his latest milestone helps bring his stellar career into focus.

After a shaky first inning Saturday night at Enron Field, Maddux settled down a won his 15th game of the season. He has now won at least 15 games in every season since 1988.

Only two other pitchers have posted as many 15-win seasons in a row: Cy Young (15) and Gaylord Perry (13).

Of those 15 seasons, Young won at least 20 games in 13 of those, and 30 games five times. But that was in the deadball era of baseball, which for all intents and purposes might as well be another game. Middle infielders didn't hit 30 home runs a year back then. Nobody did.

Christy Mathewson, also a deadball era pitcher, belongs in his own category. He won 20 games in 12 consecutive seasons, including four 30-win seasons. Along the way he saved 26 games, too.

The most games Maddux has ever started in a season were 37 in 1991. Young started 49 games in 1892.

Smooth Consistency
Consecutive 15-win seasons
Pitcher  Seasons  No. 
Cy Young  1891-05  15 
Gaylord Perry  1966-78  13 
Greg Maddux   1988-99  13 
Christy Mathewson  1903-14  12 
Pud Galvin  1879-89  11 
Warren Spahn  1953-63  11 
Walter Johnson  1910-19  10 
Tim Keefe  1881-90  10 
Kid Nichols  1890-99  10 

It's better to compare Maddux to his contemporaries.

As dominant as Kevin Brown has in the 1990s, he needs four more wins this season to extend his streak of 15-win seasons to a relatively paltry five.

Roger Clemens won at least 17 games from 1986-92, but won only 11 in 1993 and didn't exceed 15 again till 1997.

The two most dominant pitchers in baseball today -- Pedro Martinez and Randy Johnson -- have active streaks of four straight years with 15 or more wins.

Surprisingly, Cleveland's Charles Nagy entered the 2000 season with five consecutive 15-game seasons, more than the Unit and Martinez. Nagy has won at least 15 games in eight of his 11 major league seasons, but that will end because of injury problems in 2000.

It appears Curt Schilling's streak will end as well. He needs five more victories with barely more than a month left to post his fourth 15-win season in a row.

Because of the nature of wins and how difficult it is nowadays for a pitcher to get credit for the victory, 15-win seasons are not the best indicator of long-term success. But a consistent pitcher who stays healthy should at least win 10 games a season.

Of the active pitchers with streaks of 10-win seasons, Maddux heads that list as well with 13. His teammate, Tom Glavine, is second with 12, including three straight 20-win seasons from 1991-93.

Chuck Finley has been a model of consistency with an active streak of eight 10-win seasons in a row and 11 of the last 12. Andy Benes has posted 10 or more victories six years in a row and 10 of the last 11. Keep an eye on Minnesota's Brad Radke, who has broken the double-digit barrier in each of his first six seasons.

If Baltimore ace Mike Mussina can manage two more wins in 2000, his 10-wins streak will be extended to nine.

Here is a list of the pitchers with active double-digit victory streaks:

Seeing Double
Pitchers with active streaks of 10-win seasons
Pitcher  Since  No. of years  W-L during streak 
Greg Maddux  1988  13   227-115 
Tom Glavine  1989  12   195-101 
Chuck Finley  1993  8   130-87 
Pat Hentgen  1993  8   113-83 
Pedro Martinez  1994  8   121-53 
David Wells  1995  6   96-51 
Dave Burba  1995  6   73-52 
Al Leiter  1995  6   82-55 
Kevin Brown  1995  6   90-49 
Roger Clemens  1995  6   85-47 
Brad Radke  1995  6   76-81 
Andy Benes  1995  6   76-58 
James Baldwin  1996  5   61-45 
Mike Hampton  1996  5   71-38 
Stats are through Sept. 2

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